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Los Lunas Cornerstone

Church of the Nazarene

Legacy (1 Samuel 31)

    Have you ever given much thought to what will be said of you after you have left this earth? That might seem like a morbid thought, but maybe one worth having anyway. What will others say about the life you lived? What will they think about your choices and your actions toward others? What will be said about the impact you had on your community? What will others say about your character?
    I admit, I hadn’t ever thought about this until my brother’s memorial service. I was shocked to my core to see that his service was overflowing with people. We held it here, and this building was packed, standing room only in just a short time. People I didn’t know, people my parents didn’t know gathered close to us to tell us about how David had touched their life. People told us stories about how much integrity he had; others talked about his kind heart and how he would always stick up for those who were being treated poorly. Others still told us that his example of how he lived his life led them back to a relationship with Christ.
    In just 21 years, he had more of an impact on the lives of all those who knew him than most people will have after a life of 80+ years. He left a rich legacy of goodness and Christ-likeness that continues now, 10 years later.
    Most people will leave a legacy behind. When we are gone, people will remember you, if only for the remainder of their lives, you will continue to affect people long after you pass. But what will that affect be? Will people look back on their time with you with fondness and a feeling of having been blessed by your time with them? Or will they look back and try to suppress the memory of who you were in their life? The choice of which legacy we will leave behind is our choice.
    That doesn’t mean we must be without fault, without mistake, or that we’ve never had a relationship with someone else go bad. It just means that we have the choice to dwell on things in our lives that are good, to be kind, to extend the love of Christ and live for the kingdom, or we can live just like the rest of the world. Our choices for how we live each and every day will determine the legacy we leave.
    Today’s passage is the final chapter of 1 Samuel, 31, and it’s Saul’s legacy. We’ve looked at Saul’s every day choices, his life and what he chose to focus on throughout the last few weeks, so as you can probably imagine, the legacy Saul left behind was not a good one. There would not be people singing Saul’s praise after his death. People would not be longing for the days of Saul again.
    I want us to start this morning’s passage by remembering what the spirit of Samuel had spoken to Saul in 1 Samuel 28. “The Lord has done accordingly as He spoke through me; for the Lord has torn the kingdom out of your hand and given it to your neighbor, to David. As you did not obey the Lord and did not execute His fierce wrath on Amalek, so the Lord has done this thing to you this day. Moreover the Lord will also give over Israel along with you into the hands of the Philistines, therefore tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. Indeed the Lord will give over the army of Israel into the hands of the Philistines!” (17-19).
    Samuel told Saul that the next day, Saul and all his sons would die because Saul had not done as the Lord had asked, and the Lord was against Saul.
    Let’s look at 1 Samuel 31:1, “Now the Philistines were fighting against Israel, and the men of Israel fled from before the Philistines and fell slain on Mount Gilboa.”
    Already, the words Samuel’s spirit spoke to Saul were coming true. The army of Israel was being handed into the hands of the Philistines. Historically, when one nation over took another nation, or when one army overtook another army, it was thought that it was because the victor’s god was stronger than the loser’s god, or that the loser’s god had not looked on the army of his people with favor.
    So, as the Israelite army is fleeing before the Philistines and being slain, it would have been thought by the Philistines and Israel, and any other nation close by that Israel had fallen out of favor with their God, or even that the god of the Philistines was stronger than Israel’s God.
    This would not have looked good for Saul. This is part of understanding the legacy he left behind: it was a legacy of being defeated by the Philistines, a legacy of losing the favor of the God of Israel.
    Let’s move on, 1 Samuel 31:2, “The Philistines overtook Saul and his sons; and the Philistines killed Jonathan and Abinadab and Malchi-shua the sons of Saul.” The second part of Samuel’s prophetic words to Saul came true. His sons were put to death. This is a sad chapter in the story of Israel, and in David’s story as well if we remember that Jonathan was David’s close friend and ally. Jonathan had previously saved David’s life by persuading Saul momentarily not to kill David.
    What does this mean for Saul’s legacy, that his sons are killed? We have to think about this in its historical context. Sons care for their parents in their old age. Sons carry on the business of the family. Sons carry on the family name. Sons carry on the legacy of the father. Without sons, there is no one to carry on any legacy that might be left. The Lord ensured that there would be no one of Saul’s family left who would be able to carry on the work of Saul.
    Additionally for Saul, there is the matter of his kingship. Kingdoms and crowns pass from father to son. With no sons, Saul has no one to become king after him. The kingdom would pass to a man who would not carry Saul’s legacy with him.
    1 Samuel 31:3-4, “The battle went heavily against Saul, and the archers hit him; and he was badly wounded by the archers. Then Saul said to his armor bearer, “Draw your sword and pierce me through with it, otherwise these uncircumcised will come and pierce me through and make sport of me.” But his armor bearer would not, for he was greatly afraid. So Saul took his sword and fell on it.”
    That’s the third and final part of Samuel’s prophetic words to Saul, that Saul himself would have his life ended. It’s the end of any hope that Saul could make better choices with his day to have his legacy be a good one. With his death, Saul ensures that what he leaves behind is a legacy of death and defeat.
    I’m going to read the rest of 1 Samuel 31 to further show that this is what Saul’s legacy was. “When his armor bearer saw that Saul was dead, he also fell on his sword and died with him. Thus Saul died with his three sons, his armor bearer, and all his men on that day together. When the men of Israel who were on the other side of the valley, with those who were beyond the Jordan, saw that the men of Israel had fled and that Saul and his sons were dead, they abandoned the cities and fled; then the Philistines came and lived in them. It came about on the next day when the Philistines came to strip the slain, that they found Saul and his three sons fallen on Mount Gilboa. They cut off his head and stripped off his weapons, and sent them throughout the land of the Philistines, to carry the good news to the house of their idols and to the people. They put his weapons in the temple of Ashtaroth, and they fastened his body to the wall of Beth-shan. Now when the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, all the valiant men rose and walked all night, and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Beth-shan, and they came to Jabesh and burned them there. They took their bones and buried them under the tamarisk tree at Jabesh, and fasted seven days.” (5-13).
    Saul. His three sons. His armor bearer. All his men. All dead. Then the Philistines came in after the rest of the army fled and destroyed the cities, stripped the slain, and desecrated Saul’s body. A legacy of death and destruction.
    Even the small honor that the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead did for Saul after his body had been desecrated by the Philistines was not much. Certainly not what would be expected of a burial for a king. If his legacy had been a good legacy, in his death he would have been given more honor.
    This is the legacy Saul left, and he was the one who chose to leave that particular legacy through his actions. At any turn, Saul could have changed, could have acted according to God’s will and God’s character and things would have been different.
    Now, we’ll start to shift to talking about David when we start 2 Samuel in a few weeks, but already at this point in the story, we can see David making choices that will lead to a better legacy, a legacy that has him marked as one who was after God’s own heart.
    In the chapter before this, 1 Samuel 30, we have the account of David pursuing justice for a town that was burned to the ground by the Amalekites. The Amalekites had also taken captive every woman and child from the city, so David and his men set out to set the captives free. Some of David’s men however, stayed behind because they were exhausted.
    David and his men were victorious and they were able to recover the captives and they also recovered all the plunder that had been taken. David returned all the people and all the plunder to those who it belonged to, and he took the plunder that was left and split it with all his men, even the ones who had made the decision to stay behind. He was fair to all those who served him. He also showed kindness to an Egyptian slave by giving him food and water and caring for him. Moments like this would decide what David’s legacy would be, that it would be one of greatness and kindness, one that we still look up to and think highly of today.
    Every choice we make determines the legacy we leave. The way we treat others will determine if they will look at our claim to Christianity as a good thing or a bad thing. The words we speak will either turn others to Christ or turn them from Him.
    Colossians 3:17 says, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”
    Whatever you do, in word or deed!
    Even my comments on Facebook? Yes.
    Even my interactions with the person who bags my groceries? Yes.
    Even my conversation with that person who holds the opposite political view? Yes.
    Even that guy at work that is kind of weird? Yes.
    Every choice we make is meant to be done in Christ’s name. That means that it needs to be done in such a way and said in such a way that Christ could sign His name off on it as something He approved of. Our deeds and words should get His seal of approval.
    Do they?
    What legacy are you leaving? Is it one for Christ, or one that will be remembered briefly as destructive and fade quickly?

1. Think about your deeds and words, this morning and yesterday. Would your deeds and words get Christ’s seal of approval? Why or why not?

2. Based off an honest appraisal of your actions and words, do you think your legacy will be one that honors God? Why or why not?

3. What can you do from this point on to ensure that the legacy you leave is one that points others to Jesus?


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